We all remember the iconic moment when J.K. Rowling stunned crowds at Carnegie Hall in 2007 by admitting that she’d always perceived Albus Dumbledore, the wisest and most powerful man in the wizarding world, as gay. In the proceeding months, J.K. sustained hefty criticism from far-right, religious leaning people. They claimed her admission of Dumbledore’s sexuality was an attempt to indoctrinate children with the “gay agenda” by normalizing a sinful and disordered disposition. It was simply too liberal. Now, nearly 11 years later, J.K. is under fire once again… except this time it’s for not being liberal enough.
A few weeks ago, David Yates, director of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald, revealed that Dumbledore’s sexuality would not be explicitly explored in the upcoming film. Many fans viewed this as blatant queer erasure and were rightfully infuriated by the avoidance of their love story. [Any person who has read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows understands how crucial Dumbledore’s feelings for Grindewald were in the development of the plot].
However, in an attempt to reverse this most recent erasure, I am drawing attention to five possible queer characters that already exist in the Harry Potter universe! (Besides Albus Dumbledore, of course)
1) Charlie Weasley:
First on our list is the second eldest of the seven Weasley children, Charlie. Buff, beautiful, nicely tanned and incredibly well-liked, Charlie wouldn’t need amortentia to ensnare fellow witches or wizards. During his Hogwarts years, Charlie was the epitome of popular. He was both a prefect and the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. In fact, his prowess as a seeker could have landed him a spot playing for England. However, Charlie never seemed interested in following in his parent’s footsteps by being fruitful and multiplying (over and over). Instead, shortly after graduating, he left for a dragon sanctuary in Romania. While there, he developed strong familial ties to friends but never married, had no children and seemed to lack any romantic or sexual desire.
According to J.K. Rowling, Charlie is “just more interested in dragons than women” . Charlie is way more likely to be found chilling with a Hungarian Horntail than any partner. Even Rita Skeeter, the toxic daily prophet reporter, speculates about his decision to remain alone in her somewhat recent column on the 2014 Quidditch World Cup. She writes, “ Charlie, (dragon wrangler, still unmarried – why?)”
However, J.K does an incredible job of portraying his identity as normal and healthy. He doesn’t need to be married, he doesn’t need to have a romantic interest for his life to be full and valid.
2) Ginny Weasley:
In keeping with the Weasley clan lets move over to the assertive, self-assured and fiery, Ginny. While she’s obviously deeply in love with Harry, I think Ginny has an unmistakable “into-women” vibe. Full disclosure, this may just be me perpetuating my 12-year-old self’s fantasy of making Ginny my “best friend.” However, growing up with all that testosterone and the fact that women are naturally more likely to be openly bisexual than men, I can’t help but believe that Ginny isn’t 100% heterosexual.
I could definitely see her getting frisky with members of her all-female Quidditch team, the Holyhead Harpies, after a long sweaty practice. But, as she screams at Ron in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, “it’s none of your business who I go out with or what I do with them.” I have always felt her confidence, strength and beauty would have made her somewhat of a lesbian icon at Hogwarts. It at least inspired me to read way too many “Ginny/Hermione” romance stories on FanFiction.net growing up.
For these reasons, I’ve always believed Ginny to be queer.
[Disclaimer: the sexuality of these next two characters is based solely on stereotypes. Obviously, I don’t agree with pigeon holing people but Harry Potter was conceptualized in the 90’s and written during the proceeding decade. This makes me think that these characteristics were intentionally utilized to indicate homosexuality.]
3) Professor Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank:
Professor Grubbly-Plank is the unmistakable, token lesbian. She has all the hallmark classifications of a stereotypical queer lady: short hair, strong build, outdoorsy job. I wouldn’t be surprised if she wore camouflage robes with cut off cargo pants and Doc Martens underneath. She smokes a pipe, and if you’ve heard the Jim Dale audiobooks, sounds like a chain-smoking, lovable lesbian. I’m sure she has a poster of the Holyhead Harpies, or better yet the Bulgarian Veelas, over her bed.
Unfortunately, queer women are often reduced to only two distinctive categories in media: “butch” and “femme.” Butch being more masculine “tough, gritty, angry, manly and edgy” while femmes are “girly, fashionable, pretty and sensitive.” However, I’m conflicted about using stereotypes to label any person’s sexuality. As a recent study demonstrates, the number of people who report having a same sex experience is on the rise and all of these people can’t possibly fit into two rigidly defined categories. Lesbians present in endless ways (just like straight people). But, since most queer women in media are hyperfeminine and butch characters are rarely given the attention they deserve, I believe Professor Grubbly-Plank’s existence is incredibly important. Even if I still feel it’s a slightly reductive trope, having a strong butch presence is crucial to non-femme queer women who rarely ever see themselves reflected in popular media.
I would say Professor Grubbly-Plank is gay.
4) Madam Hooch:
Madam Hooch is another lovable, probably queer lady at Hogwarts. Like Grubbly-Plank, she also hits all the requirements to be a card-carrying lesbian: short hair, very involved in sports, no romantic background with a man. She’s described as having “short, grey hair and yellow eyes like a hawk.” Madam Hooch is essentially the stereotype of a lesbian gym teacher. She refs Quidditch matches, takes a very keen interest in one of Harry’s new broomsticks and is clearly obsessed with athletics. [As I mentioned earlier, this doesn’t mean anything in the real world but to J.K. Rowling I think it indicates lesbianism.]
You can’t tell me that that Madam Hooch and Professor Grubbly-Plank don’t sneak into the Quidditch stadium after dark and do some under the stars cuddling while taking turns reading Sappho’s poetry to one another. #HoochyPlank. I ship it.
I believe Madam Hooch is gay.
5) Helena Ravenclaw (The Grey Lady):
Helena Ravenclaw (The Grey Lady), daughter of the famed Rowena Ravenclaw, is the final character on our list. Now, her queerness is a bit of my own speculation. It’s well known that Rowena Ravenclaw was incredibly wise and the motto of her house is “wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.” That being said, it’s no surprise that Rowena possessed a diadem known to enhance the wearer’s wisdom. In an attempt to make herself “cleverer [and] more important than [her] mother”, (DH, 616) Rowena stole the diadem and fled Hogwarts. Finally free of her mother’s shadow, Helena thrived for a period of time. Unfortunately, when Rowena fell gravely ill, she desperately wanted to see her daughter once more. According to Helena, Rowena “sent a man who had long loved me, though I spurred his advances, to find me. She knew that he would not rest until he had done so.” (DH, 616) When Helena refused to return with him, this baron became irrationally irate and violent. And, “furious at my refusal, jealous of my freedom” (DH, 616) the baron murdered Helena.
I personally believe this story is a parallel for coming out. Rowena, while under her mother’s watchful eye, was a sexually repressed woman desperate for guidance. It wasn’t until she stole the diadem, and gained infinite wisdom (possibly relating to her sexuality), that Helena finally fled her oppressor. While away, Helena lived a full, free life that she refused to comprise when the baron attempted to bring her home.
I imagine her living as an out and proud lesbian woman (maybe she’s even got a girlfriend) and when the baron discovers her relationship with a woman, he flies into a jealous rage. He can’t understand how a woman could make her happy when she’s refused him, a man, for so long. I can’t help but feel like toxic masculinity is at play here. I truly believe Helena used the diadem to discover her sexuality and fled Hogwarts to live authentically before the baron tragically ended her life.
I believe Helena Ravenclaw, The Grey Lady, is a lesbian.
I have many more thoughts but that’s it for now! Do you have any characters who you think are on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum? Let me know 🙂
Five cheers for all the queers!